Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone system) in mammals. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones, can be derailed by hormone disruptors. Specifically, endocrine disruptors may be associated with the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems; deformations of the body (including limbs); breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid and other cancers; sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculine effects on females, etc. The critical period of development for most organisms is between the transition from a fertilized egg, into a fully formed infant. As the cells begin to grow and differentiate, there are critical balances of hormones and protein changes that must occur. Therefore, a dose of disrupting chemicals may do substantial damage to a developing fetus (baby). The same dose may not significantly affect adult mothers.
There has been controversy over endocrine disruptors, with some groups calling for swift action by regulators to remove them from the market, and regulators and other scientists calling for further study. Some endocrine disruptors have been identified and removed from the market (for example, a drug called diethylstilbestrol), but it is uncertain whether some endocrine disruptors on the market actually harm humans and wildlife at the doses to which wildlife and humans are exposed. Additionally, a key scientific paper, published in the journal Science, which helped launch the movement of those opposed to endocrine disruptors, was retracted and its author found to have committed scientific misconduct.
Found in many household and industrial products, endocrine disruptors are substances that “interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for development, behavior, fertility, and maintenance of homeostasis (normal cell metabolism).” They are sometimes also referred to as hormonally active agents, endocrine disrupting chemicals, or endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs).
Studies in cells and laboratory animals have shown that EDs can cause adverse biological effects in animals, and low-level exposures may also cause similar effects in human beings. The term endocrine disruptor is often used as synonym for xenohormone although the latter can mean any naturally occurring or artificially produced compound showing hormone-like properties (usually binding to certain hormonal receptors). EDCs in the environment may also be related to reproductive and infertility problems in wildlife and bans and restrictions on their use has been associated with a reduction in health problems and the recovery of some wildlife populations.
Triclosan has been used since 1972, and it is present in soaps (0.10-1.00%), shampoos, deodorants, toothpastes, mouth washes, and cleaning supplies, and is incorporated into an increasing number of consumer products, such as kitchen utensils, toys, bedding, socks, and trash bags. It is also found in health care settings in surgical scrubs and personnel hand washes. Triclosan has been shown to be effective in reducing and controlling bacterial contamination on the hands and on treated products. More recently, showering or bathing with 2% triclosan has become a recommended regimen in surgical units for the decolonization of patients whose skin is carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) following the successful control of MRSA outbreaks in several clinical settings. Use in surgical units is effective with a minimum contact time of approximately 2 minutes.
Antimicrobial hand soaps including those containing triclosan have been shown in studies to provide a slightly greater bacterial reduction on the hands compared to plain soap. In addition, researchers at Dial found that the transfer of bacteria to objects was reduced following washing with antimicrobial hand soap containing triclosan compared to plain soap. The FDA’s current stance on triclosan differs, based on their analysis of the body of research, and is as follows: “At this time, FDA does not have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water. Consumers concerned about using hand and body soaps with triclosan should wash with regular soap and water.” 
Triclosan is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Union. During wastewater treatment, a portion of triclosan is degraded, while the remaining adsorbs to sewage sludge or exits the plant in wastewater effluent. In the environment, triclosan may be degraded by microorganisms or react with sunlight, forming other compounds, which include between 3 and 12% of chlorophenols and dioxin
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